By Alexey Sukachev
Salle des etoiles, Monte Carlo, Monaco -We say "It's time to call it a day" for fighters who are ready to hang'em up. But this phrase can be equally addressed to referees, who don't work by the highest standards of pugilism, even if they followed them in their glorious past. A bad sample of refereeing by the lowest standards has been arguably offered tonight by Hall-of-Fame South African Stanley Christodoulou, who did a poor job (in eyes of this reporter) in calming nerves of once-defeated fighters Maxim Bursak of Ukraine and Jarrod Fletcher from the Down Under in their WBA International middleweight contest, which resulted in a unanimous decision for WBA #4 Fletcher. Official scores were 115-111, 115-111 and 114-112 - for the Australian. BoxingScene had it a draw 113-113, with two questionable point deductions in favor of Fletcher.
It's to be understood the fight was never easy for refereeing. Both contestants tried to land a couple of punches, then to hug and clinch one another. European champion Bursak (WBO #5, WBA #6, WBC #10 and IBF #11), 29, wasn't sharp and looked ordinary in his activities but Fletcher, 30 and 2008 Beijing Olympian, didn't look at his best either. He was better with his footwork but he moved mostly laterally or backwards, while the Ukrainian was an aggressor. The fight was very dirty. Provoking his foe was the Australian but Bursak easily followed the pre-planned path by hitting at the break (tightly) and at the back of the head of Fletcher. The first point deduction came after the single rabbit punch following another circle of Fletcher in the second round.
The fight was very heated in the first half, with nerves playing a major role in process. However, Bursak was on the receiving end of Christodolou's attention. Aside of a point deduction he was warned numerous time for holding and the dangerous use of his head (some of the warnings looked unnecessary). He was also strictly warned by the referee at the end of the fourth, when he landed a punch seconds after the bell , in what seemed to be borderline legit, as the Ukrainian started throwing that punch before the actual bell. However, Fletcher simulated some heavy damage even though the blow didn't look that big. He also unitized some dirty tricks himself, hitting at the back of the head, turning his back on Bursak, holding and working dangerously with his head, but Christodoulou failed to deduct points from his.
It's to be rightfully noted that the Australian was also getting edge in fistic exchanges, showing poise and desire - specifically in the midst of the fight. "The Tiger" Bursak, on the other hand, didn't listen to his coach and was extremely straightforward in his approach. Still Fletcher felt the power of his punches and was cut over his left eye and on the nose, but Bursak just didn't pick his punches together into valuable combinations to trouble Fletcher even more. He was also deducted a second questionable point in the eleventh for holding down Fletcher's head.
All in all, it wasn't the best day for the Ukrainian fighter, who goes down to 29-2-1, with 12 KOs. Fletcher, now the WBA International 160lb champion, is now 18-1, with 10 KOs, after a solid performance against one of the best European fighters.
Another big bubble has been blown away and another glorified trialhorse was exposed at Salle des Etoiles in Monaco, as South Africa-based Congolese stopped the cruiserweight version of Butterbean, named Ruben Angel Mino, in two freaky rounds.
WBA #2 and WBO #11 Makabu, 26, was coming off a banner year in 2013 with 4 big wins in the same number of fights, including three against previously undefeated fighters. Mino, 39, was also undefeated, picking up an extremely padded record of 20-0, with 20 KOs, against totally nondescript opposition. Amazingly, Makabu was overly cautious against his funny opponent ("El Hombre de Piedra") early on - possibly being confused with his "world-class" record - and the Argentinean lasted the first. In the second, the Cogolese started punching, and soon had Mino down with a big right hand. The Argentinean was up at six but was soon put down again (this time for good) with a counter left hand by Makabu, who is now 16-1, with 15 KOs. Official time of stoppage was 1:53.
In a major shocker, unheralded Filipino journeyman Rey Loreto, who has been wandering around .500 mark throughout his entire career, amazingly knocked out former IBF/IBO minimumweight champion Nkosinathi Joyi out cold in three rounds to seize a vacant IBO light flyweight title.
Joyi, who lost his IBF regalia a year and a half ago to Mario Rodriguez with the seventh-round kayo after two and a half years of reign, stopped another Pinoy fighter Benezer Alolod in his latest outing. Alolod was also the last fighter to defeat Loreto (in a rematch), and that was in March 2013. It was one of the lowest points of Loreto's career, and it has been the only way up for the 23-year battler since.
Joyi, 31, started fast, using his sharp jab to control the distance and landed overhand right hands to show Loreto who was the boss. He was also solid in the second, adding hard left hands to the body, up until the end of the round, when suddenly, out of nowhere, Loreto landed a major right uppercut, followed with a left hook to stun Joyi. He landed several more unanswered punches, pinning Joyi to the ropes, before the bell saved the South African. Joyi survived the second but was in bad shape. Loreto immediately continued swinging and finally found a path for another left bomb, which had Joyi down and out at 0:46 of the third.
IBF #6, WBC #7 and WBA #10 South African goes down to 24-3, with 17 KOs, with his career being in question after his crushing loss and going just 2-3 in his recent fights. Loreto, a proud winner of the IBO belt, is now 18-13, with 10 KOs. Joyi is his second consecutive defeated former champion - the Filipino also won over Pornsawan Porpramook in his most recent fight.
Young welterweight gun Roman Belaev improved to 13-0, 10 KOs, and acquired his third international title with a convincing win over well-travelled Irish Dean Byrne (17-3-1, 6 KOs) over twelve rounds.
Belaev, 23, used his power and calm approach to dominate each round. The Germany-based Russian stalked and grinded Byrne, six years his older, along the ropes, punched him at will, added hard, damaging blows to the body then directed his blows to the chin if the Irishman. Byrne did his best to counter accordingly but his punching power wasn't respected by the Russian. Nevertheless, Byrne had some mild success during the first half of the match-up. Then his stamina vaned, and Belaev suddenly got well too dangerous. The Russian had a big round eight, and repeated his success in the tenth, putting Byrne in danger of going down several times. Byrnes survived and had some success in the twelfth but there were no doubt of who was a real winner of the bout. Final scores were: 119-109 (twice) and 120-106 - for Belaev, who is now the WBA Continental welterweight titleholder in addition to previously owned IBF Youth and WBF I/C 147lb titles.Tags: Maksym Bursak , Nkosinathi Joyi , Ilunga Makabu , Jarrod Fletcher , Roman Belaev